My Initial Thoughts on the Middle Housing Class

Thursday, our classroom was packed with real estate agents wanting to learn the latest on the new zoning laws impacting neighborhoods in Washington. Richard Hagar did an amazing job covering this complicated subject. If you are a real estate agent, appraiser or city planner, I highly recommend attending one of his classes. The class focuses on the impacts of state regulations HB1110 and HB1337.

Ultimately, if you live in a designated urban area, zoning for single-family dwellings has been largely scrapped. Many homes will be eligible to have accessory dwelling units (ADUs) added. Depending on the population of the city, we may see additional multi-family homes as well.

This is largely intended to help create affordable housing and ease the missing “middle housing”. What may be happening, more often than not, is that when a semi-affordable home becomes available on the market, it is quickly bought by builders/developers to most likely be demolished so that a multi-unit (more profitable) properties can be added.

The addition of the units is being encouraged with the regulations. However, I’m not certain that our elected officials thought out the possible downsides and how this may impact first-time home buyers, renters and neighborhoods living next to these packed in buildings. Instead of a homeowner keeping a rental or creating a rental property, it may be more lucrative to sell the property to a developer.  Many of these “improvements” will take place without public notice and in many cases, without parking being required for the additional units.

I am all for ADU’s. Honestly, I think they are a great. Some of them are very cool and a great way to actually potentially offer affordable housing for family or to create rental income. I even have financing available for ADU’s and full construction loans. Please note: conventional and FHA financing will currently allow for one permitted ADU to be on a property and I potentially have an option for properties with 2 ADU’s.  Some of the proposed changes by the state are not eligible for traditional financing.

I also don’t mind the additional of more housing units.

My big concern is more in the potential unintended consequences; especially to those who can afford it the least.


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